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  • Step 2c - Check the Property: Conveyancing Process

    3rd October 2017

     

    The conveyancing process is the legal work that is required to transfer ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer. Whilst it starts in the Check the Property stage of the process, it moves through the remaining stages even continuing after you have moved in to ensure any loose ends are tied up.

     

    Before either parties conveyancer can start any work they must have been correctly instructed – this can be one of the biggest causes of delay. A conveyancer will send out a client care letter stating the service they will provide and the price. They cannot start work until they have received it back signed giving them the clear instruction to go ahead. It is becoming more common to accept scanned copies or electronic signatures although this isn’t standard practice yet.

     

    Once this has happened the first thing that is required is for the sellers’ conveyancer to send a standard draft contract to the buyers conveyancer when the title documents are available. This states the parties involved and the standard terms of the sale. Changes to the contract (such as fixtures and fittings included, completion dates etc) come later on. The buyers’ conveyancer cannot start work until they have been correctly instructed and received the draft contract.

     

    The buyers’ conveyancer will then conduct a range of searches:

    • Local Authority Searches – these are the documents that take the longest to come back (often 1-6 weeks but can be longer and this varies by local authority) and are usually the last documents to be received. These searches provide the most information as they look into many factors including any planning issues.
    • Water and Drainage Searches – made with the company providing water and drainage services to the area. The search will confirm how the property is charged for water and waste services (metered v unmetered), if there is a mains water supply and public sewer and if there are sewers or mains supplies that may restrict further development or extension of the property.
    • Environmental Searches – many parts of the UK are former industrial or manufacturing sites. Where the land is still contaminated and can affect health, the local council can request you pay for it to be cleared up which can be very expensive. During these checks, insurance is often provided against a test that came up clear and is subsequently found to be wrong.

     

    There are other less common searches that may be required specific to your property such as a chancel repair liability search – making contributions to the local church repairs.

     

    Once all checks are complete you will understand any leasehold terms, restrictions of usage, access to services, rights of way – anything that could affect your use and enjoyment of the property.

     

    Preventable delays:

    ID – make sure you have 2 forms of ID ready (one with an address and one with a photo). This can include a driving licence and passport but you can’t use one ID for both. The copies provided to your conveyancer must be certified. Only certain people can officially verify copies and these are solicitor, post office, bank, accountant embassy or notary public.

    Communication – keeping the seller updated at all times helps to reduce stress and frustration on their side and can greatly reduce the chance of the sale falling through as it shows you are doing everything you can do move the process along.

     

    Choosing a Conveyancer:

    You should choose a conveyancer who is good at communicating and has good availability as two core factors – this helps to keep the process moving and ensures you know what’s going on.

    You can choose:

    • National firm – often have longer opening hours and can be cost effective as you can speak to a case handler rather than the conveyancer each time saving money
    • Online firm – often cheapest using central call centres to manage your case and lower overheads. However, it can be harder to speak directly with your conveyancer or drop off last minute documents
    • Local firm – usually offer good local knowledge and provide one point of contact. Easy to resolve issues by going to the office
    • DIY – we don’t recommend this route but you can do conveyancing yourself. Most mortgage lenders will insist you use a conveyancer in their terms

     

    Conveyancing Costs

    Fees increase with the complexity of the transaction (complicated leaseholds etc) with fees averaging between £850 – £1,500. Like surveying, the cheapest fee is not necessarily the best value for money. Anything that is rushed and missed could cost you a lot more later on.

     

    Other points to remember:

    • Your seller may wonder why you are asking certain questions, particularly those that they didn’t ask when they bought the property. Where a seller doesn’t wish to answer a question, remember to stay objective and politely explain why you are asking.
    • Be prepared for misunderstandings between each side – these will happen. Stay calm and try to get to the bottom of any issues so you can move forward.
    • Your conveyancer cannot speak to other conveyancers in the chain – it’s in their regulations. Your estate agent needs to be the one who coordinates exchange and completion dates with other estate agents.

     

    Find out what happens during exchange of contracts or go back to getting a RICS Survey.

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